Three Facts about Feelings
The ability to identify and express emotions is often challenging for people in recovery from an eating disorder. When someone feels insecure, they might put forth great effort to say and do the things they think others want to hear due to fears of being judged or rejected if they shared thoughts or feelings that they fear would be unwanted by others. Wanting to accommodate or please others can also cause us to push down our authentic thoughts and feelings. When we practice pushing down our feelings, it results in losing touch with ourselves and can make it difficult to know what we’re feeling or how to express it. However the ability to identify and express feelings can be strengthened by choosing authenticity and vulnerability with ourselves and with others.
Fact #1 Feelings are neither good or bad, although different emotions might feel positive or negative. Our feelings do not come “out of the blue” but always have a reason for being present, even if we can’t put our finger on it in the moment we’re experiencing it. Our feelings are influenced by the way we perceive events, react to our “self talk,” memories and stress. Sometimes we can feel more than one emotion at the same time, and at times experience seemingly opposing feelings, such as feeling excitement and fear, or anger and empathy.
Fact #2 When we suppress our emotions, it will have consequences in our lives. It can leave us wondering that “if people knew what I really thought / felt” that they would reject or judge us which can lead to feeling insecure in our relationships and judged by others. As mentioned above, suppressing our feelings leads to losing touch with our own thoughts and emotions, and can create limitations on relationships when we are emotionally distant. The very thing we’re trying to protect ourselves from (judgment, rejection or being misunderstood) ends up being the very feelings that are reinforced.
Fact #3 Coping with emotions in a healthy way includes acceptance of whatever feelings we’re experiencing in the moment. We can not control or change our feelings in an instant, however we can practice accepting them without doing anything to try to avoid them. When we choose to accept the emotions we experience, we gain the opportunity to have insight into our feelings and can observe the thoughts and beliefs that are fueling our feelings.
Let’s choose authenticity in our relationships with ourselves and with others!